Family Monarch-flycatchers (Monarchidae)

Least Concern

Island Monarch (Monarcha cinerascens)


French: Monarque des îles German: Graukopfmonarch Spanish: Monarca isleño
Other common names: Islet Monarch

Drymophila cinerascens


, 1827,



Taxonomy complex and not fully understood. Several authors have proposed that all or most races are not tenable, and that the species should be treated as monotypic or, alternatively, restricted to just nominate race and three others, from very pale perpallidus to dark impediens and an intermediate fulviventris (with wide degree of variation within and between island forms). Bismarck forms perpallidus and impediens (perhaps with nigrirostris and fulviventris) may merit treatment as a separate species; nigrirostris synonymized with impediens by some authors#R. Other proposed races here considered too poorly differentiated to warrant recognition are jacobii (Talaud Is), disjunctus (N Sumbawa, islands in Flores Sea), intercedens (Tukangbesi Is), harterti (Moluccas), brunneus (Great Banda, in S Moluccas) and kisserensis (E Lesser Sundas), all synonymized with nominate. Race commutatus sometimes included in nominate#R. Eleven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. c. commutatus Brüggemann, 1876 – islands of Sangihe, Siau, Mayu and Tifore.
  • M. c. cinerascens (Temminck, 1827) – Talaud Archipelago, Sulawesi, Sula Is, Moluccas and Lesser Sundas E to Kai Is; recent regular records in Ashmore Reef#R and Cassini I#R, Australia.
  • M. c. inornatus (Lesson & Garnot, 1828) – #RWest Papuan Is, NW New Guinea and Aru Is.
  • M. c. steini Stresemann & Paludan, 1932 – Numfor I (Geelvink Bay), in NW New Guinea.
  • M. c. geelvinkianus A. B. Meyer, 1884 – #RBiak I and Yapen I (in Geelvink Bay).
  • M. c. fuscescens A. B. Meyer, 1884 – #Rislands off N New Guinea.
  • M. c. nigrirostris Neumann, 1929 – NE New Guinea and islands.
  • M. c. fulviventris Hartlaub, 1868 – W Bismarck Archipelago (Anchorite, Ninigo and Admiralty Is).
  • M. c. perpallidus Neumann, 1924 – Emirau I and Tench I, St Matthias Group, Tingwon Is, New Hanover, New Ireland, Tabar Is and Lihir Is.
  • M. c. impediens E. J. O. Hartert, 1926 – islets off E Bismarck Archipelago S to Solomon Is; Ontong Java Atoll.
  • M. c. rosselianus Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1916 – Trobriand Is, D’Entrecasteaux Is and Louisiade Archipelago.
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5–19 cm. A medium-sized to large, mostly dull grey monarch. Adult is dull ash-grey or bluish-grey, except for orange-rufous on belly, flanks and undertail-coverts;... read more


    Noisy and conspicuous. Song a loud, mellow but unmusical series of slurred notes, “weeweeweeweewee... read more


    Lowland hill and lower montane forests, relict forest and woodlands and coastal scrub on small... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food primarily ants (Hymenopera), small cockroaches (Blattodea), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), thrips (Thysanoptera), springtails (Collembola... read more


    Appears to breed during both wet and dry seasons: fledged young seen in Feb, incubating adult in Apr, nests with chicks in Jun and Aug, and... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common or locally very common; rare in coastal New Guinea. Widespread and frequent in forest and villages on Roti I, in E Lesser Sundas.

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P. (2018). Island Monarch (Monarcha cinerascens). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 June 2018).